1 CORINTHIANS 4 [Clear Word]

25. MINISTERIAL ACCOUNTABILITY

1 Those of us who are sharing the good news with you are servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 The one thing required of a steward is that he be faithful. 3 It doesn't matter to me what you think of me or how the church there judges me. I don't even try to judge myself. 4 As far as I know, there's nothing that stands against me, but I'll let God decide that. A man's conscience isn't always a good guide. 5 So don't judge others before God's judgment comes. Let the Lord decide. When He comes, He'll bring all things to light, including a man's motives which we can't see. In that day everything will be made plain and the decision that really counts will come from God. 6 Apollos and I are your servants to minister to your spiritual needs. You are to listen to us, but not beyond what is written in the Scriptures. If you keep comparing us with each other, you'll end up taking sides and then boast of your choice. 7 Who made you stand apart from the world? What spiritual insight do you have that wasn't given to you? If it was given to you by Christ, then why are you acting as if you had done it on your own? 8 You're inflated with yourselves and feel rich in worldly goods. You have acted like kings. I wish under God that all of you were kings, the right kind, of course, so you could share your blessings with others. 9 Sometimes I think that God purposely put those of us who are apostles at the end of the show as they do in the Roman arena when the most worthless are doomed to fight until they die. In a spiritual sense we're in God's arena having become a spectacle to the world and to the whole universe. 10 For Christ's sake we are made to look like fools, while you are made to look wise; we are made to look weak and powerless, while you are made to look strong and influential; you end up looking like ones to be honored, while we are made to look like ones to be despised. 11 For years we have suffered from hunger, thirst, lack of clothing, beatings and exposure. 12 We have worked hard with our own hands to support ourselves. When we were cursed, we blessed, and when we were persecuted, we endured it without complaint. 13 When people insulted us, we answered with kind words. To this day we are treated like garbage and the scum of the earth. 14 I'm telling you these things not to make you feel bad or to shame you but, as my own sons and daughters, to make you aware of what you can expect. 15 You may have ten thousand teachers in Christ that you can point to, but how many spiritual fathers do you have? I was the one who was sent by God to bring you to Christ. 16 So if you need to look to someone as your spiritual father, you should rightfully look to me. 17 That's why I'm sending Timothy to you. He's like my own son, faithful to the Lord. He will review with you the principles of living for Christ which I teach everywhere I go. 18 Some of you will be offended because I'm sending Timothy, and you will think I don't want to face you myself. 19 I will come to see you as soon as possible, unless the Lord directs otherwise. Then I'll not only find out what these arrogant people are saying about me and what unscriptural ideas they've been pushing on you, but what real power they have. 20 The kingdom of God is not just talk but power. Talk is cheap! 21 So what do you prefer? Do you want me to come with a verbal whip or with love and gentleness?